U.S. Markets open in 7 hrs 33 mins

XP Power Limited (LON:XPP) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate XP Power Limited (LON:XPP) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for XP Power:

0.17 = UK£35m ÷ (UK£238m - UK£28m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, XP Power has an ROCE of 17%.

View our latest analysis for XP Power

Is XP Power's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. XP Power's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 14% average in the Electrical industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how XP Power compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

XP Power's current ROCE of 17% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 25%, 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how XP Power's past growth compares to other companies.

LSE:XPP Past Revenue and Net Income, August 12th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How XP Power's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

XP Power has total liabilities of UK£28m and total assets of UK£238m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 12% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From XP Power's ROCE

Overall, XP Power has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. XP Power shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.